Globalization and the rise in organized crime, including drug trafficking, has a particularly negative impact on youth, who are often used as sources of cheap labour in criminal activities. While juvenile delinquents contribute to urban crime, they are also the victims of crime, violence, poverty, exploitation and HIV/AIDS. Many are orphans, abandoned by their families, or runaways escaping from domestic violence, conflict or acute poverty at home or in institutions. Some are rural migrants earning money for themselves and their village-based families. However as many are in the 15-19 years age bracket, they are often considered adults and little support is offered to them. This project is designed to provide psychological and educational support that will empower urban youth at risk (15-19 years old), allowing them to restore their human dignity and enabling them to reintegrate into society.
The "House for Youth" (Battambang, Cambodia) accommodated 72 youth in 2003 alone and provided them with educational and job training opportunities (of which 11 have successfully graduated). Nineteen community-based awareness-raising workshops for disadvantaged youth were organized in 3 districts and 15 video sessions were held, with a total of 11,509 attendees. A Provincial Workshop in cooperation with local partners and UNICEF was organized recommending an action framework for youth at risk to be taken up as part of the Provincial Child Protection Committee agenda. In Ho-chi Minh City (Vietnam) two "Houses for Youth, Boys and Girls" accommodated 19 boys and 12 girls, providing them with basic education and vocational skills training and a secure living environment. Additional facilities, including Group Homes, the government Children Education and Training Centre and "Children"s House District 8th" shelter, also provided support. The project also undertook "street consultation", study visits to the Philippines. A final workshop was attended by over 80 participants representing governments, local associations, social workers and target groups.
Establishing and supporting the "House for Youth" in both cities has assisted youth at risk to become active members of society by promoting re-integration rather than "protection" or "segregation" as practised in the past. Awareness was raised on urban youth issues, creating a conductive environment for reintegration to occur, and contributing to improved urban security and a reduction in urban poverty. In Cambodia, a village level awareness-raising workshop has resulted in a reduction in human trafficking, and in Vietnam the project has contributed to a policy shift towards reintegration of street children and youth.